The sound of the leaves falling all around, the changing smells of the season, the cooler and cloudier days, and the shortening hours of daylight speak to me of a time coming to slow down, cocoon, and self nurture. I have taken an evening to hermit beside my very own campfire. The smell of the wood smoke takes me back into my childhood when the family would visit Dad’s Uncle August and Aunt Clara, and we small children would be forgiven for running and diving into the newly raked leaves.
Flash forward, and I am my own adult now. The leaves are falling down upon me and my little fire, and I look upward, seeing the silhouettes of the treetops, and the sky has cleared and there are stars all around. The owls who nest in the pines call overhead. I feel grateful in this moment for the way my life is forming around me and a reverence for the Natural world. There is more gratitude than I can express, even in prayer to the elements, so I let my heart do the talking with a depth of emotion best expressed in the silence of inward directed prayer. I look toward the house with its welcoming electric lights and my husband within. We have created a life here for ourselves, together, but there is something primeval and fierce about my presence at the fire tonight that I need. The need for reverence demands expression, and I am heeding its siren call. It feels healing to sit out in the night and let go of old ways of thought and belief patterns that no longer serve me and open inner space to something new.
Knowledge arrives in vicarious ways. I am primarily Spirit-led, but I meet people. When I am with like-minded shamanic practitioners, we share knowledge, and we speak a common language of the heart. Time spent learning from the Elements is a key way of shamanic teaching. I have worked with Earth, Fire, and Water. This past summer I spent a week with Renee Baribeau, author of the Winds of Spirit, at Omega Institute, working with the Winds. I have begun the work of studying how the elements combine in me, and it is bringing me home to my self.
Daily life is full of demands for my attention between the job and the details of simply living. Any moment of stopping my attention from the activities of the world is likely to be interrupted by the phone or the needs of my job. But here, alone under the trees and the stars and the night, the love I feel for the land can awaken, and I find pleasure in my own company again. I imagine my ancestors taking a moment like this as they struggled to live and raise families, and I feel such love for them too – my roots.
Surround sound of the flowing waters, the leaves falling with a whisper, the wind caressing my cheek, the black earth under my feet as I fire dance with the Black Swan drum, and intentional sensation to my breath and my own heartbeat. Even as I move heartbeat by heartbeat, I am still within. The Beauty that I feel and sense all around me invites me into Itself, a timeless archetypal quality that graces me in a space-time moment of transcendence into an awareness of All That Is.
I am humbled and grateful. In these moments I begin to pray, and I know I am heard, because I feel the awareness gathering of the local spirits I work with – the mountains, creek and land vettir. I pray for blessings on all who make this valley home, and I pray for blessings for this precious Pachamama, our Earth. I pray for myself and my home, for sustenance in this year ahead, this year that is just turning again according to the old calendar at Samhain, and I pray for my dead. For it is through them that my own life has arisen and been bought and paid for.
Sitting beside my little fire, mindfully nurturing its light with each twig and branch, is a time to honor all my relations, and to discern where I have been remiss in my attention and what rectification is needful. In coming home to myself I also take responsibility for my footprint in the world, and how to walk my talk with integrity and satisfaction.
When my time at the fire comes to a close, I linger beside the embers, their gay twinkling serving to bring me up from deep introspection and back into the waking world. I take another moment for gratitude, and then I spread the coals out and shovel dirt over them to prevent forest fires. I gather up my things, bow to Beauty in the night-time, and return to the electric glow of the house.